Maryland HOA Laws

Maryland HOA Laws

Last Updated: June 15, 2023 by Corrin Swintosky

Homeowners associations (HOAs) manage many planned communities in Maryland. Various local, state, and federal regulations as well as governing documents oversee HOAs in Maryland.

Who Regulates HOAs in Maryland?

In Maryland, HOAs are regulated by the Maryland Homeowners Association Act found in Title 11b of the Maryland Code. This act applies to residential developments with common areas run by members. This act does not apply to condominiums, cooperative housing corporations, or any development that is not for residential purposes.

An HOA is also regulated by its own governing documents. The governing documents typically include: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, and other rules and regulations. However, all HOAs are different in what documents they may or may not include.

HOAs in Maryland may be subject to applicable federal laws such as:

HOAs may be subject to certain state laws such as:

How to Find HOA Regulations in Maryland

Public inspection of HOA governing documents is at the discretion of each individual HOA. An exception would be if the individual seeking the records is also the subject of the records. Otherwise, HOA governing documents are for members and lot owners only.

All required documents filed with the Maryland Secretary of State are public records. These documents can be found online by doing a Business Entity Search. Some documents are available for public viewing while others require an order through the website for a fee.

Alternatively, if an HOA did file its governing documents with the Maryland Secretary of State, anyone can submit a Public Records Request with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation here.

HOA Powers in Maryland

In Maryland, an HOA has the power to:

  • Collect payments for common assessments
  • Collect charges to maintain and operate the common areas
  • Levy reasonable fines
  • Foreclose on a house for unpaid liens

Moreover, an HOA’s governing documents can grant added powers such as restrictions on membership, parking, fencing, and exterior paint colors.

Can an HOA Impose Fines on a Homeowner in Maryland?

In Maryland, HOAs can impose fines on homeowners for late payments of assessments and other charges. Late fees can be imposed 15 days after the charge or assessment is due.

Late fees can be in the amount of $15 or 1/10 of the total late assessment, whichever is greater. Fines cannot be imposed more than once for the same late payment.

An HOA cannot fine a homeowner for (or generally prohibit) any of the following:

  • Using the residence as a family child care home
  • Displaying candidate signs during election season
  • Installing or using electric vehicle charging equipment
  • Composting organic waste materials
  • Installing solar panels
  • Installing a portable basketball apparatus
  • Using “low-impact landscaping” techniques to conserve water and prevent pollution
  • Displaying the American flag so long as the flag is displayed in a manner consistent with federal flag display law
  • Installing satellite dishes and antennas

An HOA’s governing documents may include reasonable regulations and rules about the placement and manner of display regarding any of the items listed above.

Can an HOA Take a Homeowner’s House in Maryland?

In Maryland, an HOA can foreclose on a homeowner’s house within its community. The process starts with an HOA placing a lien on a property when the owner neglects to pay their dues. If a lien goes unresolved, the HOA can foreclose on the house.

There is no state provision governing an HOA’s power to evict a homeowner or tenant. These powers will be laid out in the HOA’s governing documents.

Can an HOA Enter a Homeowner’s Property in Maryland?

There is no state provision in Maryland that governs HOAs entering a homeowner’s property. Clauses of if, when, and how an HOA can enter a homeowner’s house will be listed in its governing documents.

Typically, an HOA may be able to enter a homeowner’s property in case of emergency, maintenance, or violation of any rules or regulations.

Except in the case of an emergency, reasonable notice should be provided to the homeowner before the HOA is to enter the property. A reasonable timeline can range depending on the reason for entry. Generally, reasonable notice is between three days and a couple of weeks.

Where Do Homeowners File Complaints Against Their HOA in Maryland?

The appropriate agency to file a complaint against an HOA depends on the type of complaint.

If a homeowner feels they are a victim of housing discrimination, they can file a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, the U.S. Department of Urban Housing, or file a private lawsuit in Maryland state or federal court.

For complaints concerning HOA fees, a homeowner can file a complaint with the local county or city housing department, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, homeowners may also file in state or federal court within one year of the violation date.

A homeowner can bring all other complaints to state court in the appropriate jurisdiction by filing a claim.

Joining and Leaving an HOA in Maryland

In Maryland, there are two types of HOAs that govern joining and leaving clauses. Documents explaining the HOA and its membership rules should be presented at the closing for a new owner’s home purchase.

  • Mandatory HOAs. When a person buys a home, they automatically become a member required to abide by any HOA rules listed in the governing documents. This usually includes that a homeowner is not able to leave the HOA freely.
  • Voluntary HOAs. When a person buys a home, membership is a choice for each homeowner. If they choose to become a member, they may leave at any time by stopping their payments with the HOA.

To leave a mandatory HOA, a homeowner can sell their house or try to petition the court to have their home removed. However, there is no guarantee the petition will be granted.

How to Dissolve an HOA in Maryland

The process for dissolution of an HOA in Maryland may be set forth in the HOA’s governing documents. If it is not, the majority of HOA members must authorize dissolution.

If the majority of HOA members vote in favor of dissolution, the HOA must carry out any business needs such as getting rid of debts and assets. Lastly, an Articles of Dissolution must be filed with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.